I’m writing a series on the ways educators can better partner with families to help students make a successful transition to middle school. In the process, I’m hoping to create resources that can be shared with families across the district, especially those from marginalized communities who don’t often have access to historical knowledge about how our education system works. If you have questions or ideas about how to support middle school family engagement please write your ideas and questions in the comments below.
Recently I’ve been sharing my experiences as a new middle school mom. What I’m learning is there is a LOT of information schools could share with families to better help them partner and support their kids.
Many school staff assume families know how to navigate schools. Unfortunately, traditionally marginalized families, such as Black, Latino, low-income and immigrant families, often lack the basic information they need to support the success of their children. Schools that want to support the success of ALL children can answer the following questions for families.
Parents can download and print out these questions and bring them to their schools by clicking this link: Questions Every Parent Should Ask
Questions Every Parent Should Ask to Ensure Their Child’s Success*
*Questions that apply to middle and high school ONLY are listed with an asterisk (*).
What is my child’s schedule, and who are their teachers? How can I contact them? (List schedule with names and contact info.)
*Who is my child’s counselor? What is the best way to contact them?
Who do I speak with if I have safety concerns? (e.g. bullying, drug use, sexual harassment etc.)
Who do I contact if I have concerns about my child… (List names and contact information.)
- special-education needs?
- about extended absences due to illness or other family issues?
*How do students get scheduled into electives? (Music, art, coding, dance, etc.?) How are parents involved and informed?
How can students participate in lunchtime clubs and other extra-curricular activities?
How does the school provide support for students who are struggling…
- with health concerns?
If students are placed in academic support, does this prevent them from participation in enrichment such a STEM, music, etc. If so, what is the reason given?
*How do students participate in sports? What do families need to do and know? (Note: In many states it is illegal for schools to charge money for students to participate in educational programs.)
How does the school ensure low-income students don’t have to pay for…
- field trips?
- to have instruments for music programs?
- *locks for lockers and uniforms?
Who do I talk to if you have concerns about instructional materials, qualified teachers, or safe facilities?
When are parent/community meetings scheduled? (List dates/times and locations.)
- Back-to-School Night?
- School Site Council (SSC)
- English Learner Advisory Council (ELAC)
- Parent Teacher Organization/Association (PTO/A)
How/where is all this and other information regularly shared (both verbally and in writing) with families? How does the school communicate with families…
- who lack access to technology?
- who speak a language other than English?